By David Faust
Jesus predicted, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Luke 21:10), and his prophetic words ring true. Throughout history, strife on earth has been more prevalent than peace on earth.
In biblical history it was Israel versus the Philistines, the Babylonians versus the Jews, the zealots versus the Romans. American history includes the long battle for independence from Great Britain and the bloody conflict of North versus South. The twentieth century brought dramatic wars in Europe and the South Pacific, and today strife continues in the Middle East, North Korea, Afghanistan, and other hot spots around the world. The dark cloud of terrorism creates anxiety and inconvenience whether we travel by air or run in a marathon. From the deserts of Iraq to the streets of Boston, the battle rages: evil versus good, strife versus peace.
Political battles aren’t the only problem. Sometimes nature itself seems determined to hurt us. Jesus predicted, “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (v. 11). Floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, and tornadoes abound in a sin-cursed world that groans because it wants to be “liberated from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:19-22).
Even worse, hostile forces oppose the very good news that can save us. Jesus warned, “They will seize you and persecute you. They will . . . put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name” (Luke 21:12). Today in Saudi Arabia, it’s illegal for Christians to worship publicly. Pakistan’s blasphemy law threatens anyone who criticizes Mohammed. In Western Europe and America, university professors and students who stand for biblical truth risk being humiliated in the classroom and ostracized by their peers.
Thankfully, Jesus not only warned his disciples about hard times to come; he also advised us how to respond.
Jesus’ Instructions for Living in Hard Times
“Watch out that you are not deceived” (v. 8). Deceptive leaders and false messiahs have risen up in every age, but the truth still sets us free.
“When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened” (v. 9). God gives peace even in the midst of conflict.
“But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves” (v. 14). We should prepare for hard times, but we shouldn’t live in constant fear. Even when dragged before kings and governors, the disciples could “bear testimony” about Jesus (v. 13), and he promised to provide the “words and wisdom” they needed (v. 15).
“Stand firm, and you will win life” (v. 19). The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, but God’s purpose still prevailed; and by standing firm in our faith, God’s people will prevail no matter what hardships come upon the earth. Jesus warned, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap” (v. 34).
Today, nations continue to rise against other nations. But we believe in the King of kings who reigns over all. We preach a gospel all cultures can believe and embrace. We have a mission that brings hope and light to a dark and broken world. And we look forward to a glorious eternal city where “the glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” (Revelation 21:26), and where the warring nations finally will be at peace.
1. How do you see God’s hand at work in today’s news?
2. What are you currently doing to spread the gospel throughout the world?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for September 8, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Isaiah 9, 10